Sugiura Norio is currently presenting in Tokyo a series of photographs that represents a new direction for Japan’s premiere bondage photographer. Titled “Seigen no Onnazu,” the show presents a series of photographs all taken with one model, his partner Miho, and one Noh mask. There is very little bondage. “This is a turning point for me,” Sugiura, now 77, said at the opening reception on Oct. 29. Working with Miho, he said, showed him the way to free creative expression that transcends kinbaku. The current show is built around the theme of long, black hair and a “komote” Noh mask, and is the photographers first show since a large exhibition in 2017.
In creating this new series of photographs, the two drew inspiration from the classic Japanese tale “Dojoji,” retold over the centuries in many traditional Japanese arts, including Noh. The original legend tells of a young woman named Kiyohime, who falls in love with a handsome Buddhist priest. He must refuse her because of his vow of celibacy, but her passion and jealousy transform her into a serpent. When he tries to hide from her inside a temple bell, Kiyohime, now the furious serpent, coils around the bell and blows fire, burning the object of her love to death.
In each photograph, Miho wears the same Noh mask, a type called “ko-omote” (literally, “little mask”) used for roles of a young woman who is not yet twenty. While the face on such a mask may at first appear static and expressionless, Noh masks are carefully designed to convey different emotions depending on the angle from which they are viewed. This device carries over into the photographs, some of which visibly change as the viewer shifts position. “Most of all, I wanted to convey the emotions of a woman who is capable of killing for love,” Miho said at the opening, herself moved to the point of tears.
The exhibition is on view at Gallery LeDeco, Takakuwa Bldg., 6F, 3-16-3 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo through Nov. 3. Open 11 am to 7 pm (5 pm on the final day). Admission is 500 yen. A small catalog of the exhibition is available on site for 3,000 yen or can be ordered by sending an email to [email protected] Inquiries from exhibition venues outside Japan also most welcome.
Photographs by Sugiura Norio. Used with permission.
To purchase collections of Sugiura Norio’s photographs for instant download, ordering in English and with international credit cards, please visit: www.japanesebound.com/product-category/photo-collections/
Videos from his beautiful Kinbaku Kinema series are also available at https://www.japanesebound.com/product-category/kinbaku/kinbaku-kinema/
A more extensive selection is available on the photographer’s Japanese-language website: www.sugiuranorio.jp